ROAD2H: Development and evaluation of an open-source explainable artificial intelligence approach for managing co-morbidity and clinical guidelines

Jesús Domínguez, Denys Prociuk, Branko Marović, Kristijonas Čyras, Oana Cocarascu, Francis Ruiz, Ella Mi, Emma Mi, Christian Ramtale, Antonio Rago, Ara Darzi, Francesca Toni, Vasa Curcin*, Brendan Delaney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Clinical decision support (CDS) systems (CDSSs) that integrate clinical guidelines need to reflect real-world co-morbidity. In patient-specific clinical contexts, transparent recommendations that allow for contraindications and other conflicts arising from co-morbidity are a requirement. In this work, we develop and evaluate a non-proprietary, standards-based approach to the deployment of computable guidelines with explainable argumentation, integrated with a commercial electronic health record (EHR) system in Serbia, a middle-income country in West Balkans. Methods: We used an ontological framework, the Transition-based Medical Recommendation (TMR) model, to represent, and reason about, guideline concepts, and chose the 2017 International global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease (GOLD) guideline and a Serbian hospital as the deployment and evaluation site, respectively. To mitigate potential guideline conflicts, we used a TMR-based implementation of the Assumptions-Based Argumentation framework extended with preferences and Goals (ABA+G). Remote EHR integration of computable guidelines was via a microservice architecture based on HL7 FHIR and CDS Hooks. A prototype integration was developed to manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with comorbid cardiovascular or chronic kidney diseases, and a mixed-methods evaluation was conducted with 20 simulated cases and five pulmonologists. Results: Pulmonologists agreed 97% of the time with the GOLD-based COPD symptom severity assessment assigned to each patient by the CDSS, and 98% of the time with one of the proposed COPD care plans. Comments were favourable on the principles of explainable argumentation; inclusion of additional co-morbidities was suggested in the future along with customisation of the level of explanation with expertise. Conclusion: An ontological model provided a flexible means of providing argumentation and explainable artificial intelligence for a long-term condition. Extension to other guidelines and multiple co-morbidities is needed to test the approach further.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLearning Health Systems
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • argumentation
  • CDS hooks
  • clinical decision support systems
  • co-morbidity
  • FHIR
  • Transition-based Medical Recommendation model


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